God’s Redemptive Love!
This is another “action sermon” as Hosea reclaims his estranged wife and brings her home to himself. Gomer had left Hosea and was living with a lover, another picture of the way Israel had treated the Lord.
We don’t know how long this situation went on. But finally, word reached Hosea that the woman he loved was to be sold in the slave market. The man she lived with had tired of her and decided to convert her into cash. The brokenhearted prophet went weeping to God, and God said,
“Go once more, and show love to [this] wife [of yours] who has been loved by her boyfriend, to this adulteress — just as Adonai (God) loves the people of Isra’el, even though they turn to other gods and love the raisin cakes [offered to them].”
Hosea 3:1 (CJB)
We begin to see the love of God when we realise that God was faced with a people who might have brought him some regrets! The people gave ‘cakes of raisins’, cooked offerings to a female deity, the “queen of heaven” (see Jeremiah 7:18; 44:19).
So Hosea went to the marketplace and he watched Gomer as she was brought up and placed on the dock. She was stripped of her clothing and shamed in her nakedness before the crowd of gawkers. The bidding began. Somebody bid three pieces of silver and Hosea raised it to five. Somebody upped it to eight and Hosea bid ten. Somebody went to eleven; he went to twelve. Finally Hosea offered fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel of barley. The auctioneer’s gavel fell and Hosea had his wife back.
So I bought her back for myself with fifteen pieces of silver and eight bushels of barley .
Hosea 3:2 (CJB)
He went to her, put clothes on her, and lovingly took her home. And then follows what is among the tenderest and most beautiful verses in the entire Bible:
Then I told her, “You are to remain in seclusion for a long time and be mine. You are not to be a prostitute, and you are not to be with any other man; and I won’t come in to have sex with you either.”
Hosea 3:3 (CJB)
He pledged his love to her anew. And that was all this poor woman could take. She had fallen to the gutter of shame, disgrace, and poverty – but the steadfast, unconditional love of Hosea broke her wilful heart and raised her up again. From then on, Gomer was faithful to Hosea. In the rest of the book, Hosea goes on to tell the effect of this story on the nation of Israel. God said to the people,
“How can I give you up?”
He reminded them of His love for them all those years even though they had turned their backs on Him. It is a story of God’s redemptive love for a people who had sold themselves into bondage – poverty, and shame. It is the same story that would be retold in the New Testament when Jesus came and paid the price for our redemption, so that He could take His bride, the church, out of bondage and restores her to a place of honor and faithfulness.
We find some remarkable predictions in Hosea. One occurs at the close of chapter 3. Right in line with the story of the personal life of Hosea and his unfaithful bride, God says of the people of Israel:
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim.
Hosea 3:4 (NKJV)
That prophecy is being fulfilled today. The children of Israel have lived many days without a king. Ever since the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 at the hands of General Titus of Rome, Israel has been without a king or a prince, without anyone who has the undisputed right to reign over Israel.
The Israelites have no sacrifice because they have no temple, altar, or priesthood. They don’t have a pillar (image) or a household god (teraphim), because idolatry was purged from their culture during the Babylonian Captivity. (Like the Gentiles, they may have other kinds of idols in their hearts!) They lack an ephod (Ex. 28:1-14), because they have no high priest. The only High Priest God will acknowledge is the interceding Son of God in heaven.
Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.
Hosea 3:5 (NKJV)
But there is an “afterward”! Israel won’t stay “without,” for she will see her Messiah, repent of her sins, and say, “You are my God!” They will enter into that blessed relationship in which the Lord says, “You are My people!” This will occur in “the latter days” when the messianic King sits on David’s throne and judges righteously (Matt. 19:28; Luke 1:32-33).
The key word is “return”, a word that’s used twenty-two times in Hosea’s prophecy. When Israel repents and returns to the Lord, then the Lord will return to bless Israel (Hosea 2:7-8). God has returned to His place and left Israel to herself (5:15) until she seeks Him and says, “Come, and let us return to the Lord” (6:1).
This is Hosea’s message:
“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God….Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord. Say to him, “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you our praises.“‘ (14:1-2).
That prayer is good for any sinner, Jew or Gentile. To summarize:
God is gracious, and no matter what “name” our birth has given to us, He can change it and give us a new beginning. Even the “valley of trouble” can become a “door of hope.”
God is holy and He must deal with sin. The essence of idolatry is enjoying the gifts but not honoring the Giver. To live for the world is to break God’s heart and commit “spiritual adultery.”
God is love and promises to forgive and restore all who repent and return to Him. He promises to bless all who trust him.
Growing In Godliness
When God directed Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman, He was calling this faithful prophet to be a living illustration of His love for His people. Similarily, He calls us to exhibit unconditional love to the world around us. Paul expressed the essence of this kind of godly living when he wrote,
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” (Eph 5:1).
Be an extension of God’s forgiveness, and seek to restore any broken relationship with those around you. Hosea’s actions reflected God’s loving forgiveness toward His people. Ask and look for opportunities to be an expression of God’s love in all you do.